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Technical Reference: Base Operating System and Extensions, Volume 2

rand or srand Subroutine


Generates pseudo-random numbers.


Standard C Library (libc.a)


#include <stdlib.h> 

int rand

void srand ( Seed)
unsigned int Seed;


Attention: Do not use the rand subroutine in a multithreaded environment. See the multithread alternative in the rand_r (rand_r Subroutine) subroutine article.

The rand subroutine generates a pseudo-random number using a multiplicative congruential algorithm. The random-number generator has a period of 2**32, and it returns successive pseudo-random numbers in the range from 0 through (2**15) -1.

The srand subroutine resets the random-number generator to a new starting point. It uses the Seed parameter as a seed for a new sequence of pseudo-random numbers to be returned by subsequent calls to the rand subroutine. If you then call the srand subroutine with the same seed value, the rand subroutine repeats the sequence of pseudo-random numbers. When you call the rand subroutine before making any calls to the srand subroutine, it generates the same sequence of numbers that it would if you first called the srand subroutine with a seed value of 1.

The rand subroutine is a simple random-number generator. Its spectral properties, a mathematical measurement of randomness, are somewhat limited. See the drand48 subroutine or the random subroutine for more elaborate random-number generators that have greater spectral properties.


Seed Specifies an initial seed value.

Return Values

Upon successful completion, the rand subroutine returns the next random number in sequence. The srand subroutine returns no value.

There are better random number generators, as noted above; however, the rand and srand subroutines are the interfaces defined for the ANSI C library.


The following functions define the semantics of the rand and srand subroutines, and are included here to facilitate porting applications from different implementations:

static unsigned int next = 1;
int rand( )
next = next 
 1103515245 + 12345;
return ((next >>16) & 32767);

void srand (Seed)

int Seed;
next = Seed;

Related Information

The drand48, erand48, lrand48, nrand48, mrand48, jrand48, srand48, seed48, or lcong48 subroutine, random, srandom, initstate, or setstate (random, srandom, initstate, or setstate Subroutine) subroutine.

Subroutines Overview in AIX 5L Version 5.2 General Programming Concepts: Writing and Debugging Programs.

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